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Maya Hieroglyphic Writing - beginner level

General data

Course ID: 3101-MAY-OG
Erasmus code / ISCED: 08.4 Kod klasyfikacyjny przedmiotu składa się z trzech do pięciu cyfr, przy czym trzy pierwsze oznaczają klasyfikację dziedziny wg. Listy kodów dziedzin obowiązującej w programie Socrates/Erasmus, czwarta (dotąd na ogół 0) – ewentualne uszczegółowienie informacji o dyscyplinie, piąta – stopień zaawansowania przedmiotu ustalony na podstawie roku studiów, dla którego przedmiot jest przeznaczony. / (0222) History and archaeology The ISCED (International Standard Classification of Education) code has been designed by UNESCO.
Course title: Maya Hieroglyphic Writing - beginner level
Name in Polish: Maya Hieroglyphic Writing - beginner level
Organizational unit: Faculty of Archeology
Course groups: General university courses
General university courses
General university courses in the humanities
General university subjects
On-line general university courses
ECTS credit allocation (and other scores): (not available) Basic information on ECTS credits allocation principles:
  • the annual hourly workload of the student’s work required to achieve the expected learning outcomes for a given stage is 1500-1800h, corresponding to 60 ECTS;
  • the student’s weekly hourly workload is 45 h;
  • 1 ECTS point corresponds to 25-30 hours of student work needed to achieve the assumed learning outcomes;
  • weekly student workload necessary to achieve the assumed learning outcomes allows to obtain 1.5 ECTS;
  • work required to pass the course, which has been assigned 3 ECTS, constitutes 10% of the semester student load.

view allocation of credits
Language: English
Type of course:

general courses

Prerequisites (description):

The Course is designed for students of all modes and grades (BA, MA, PhD) interested in the Ancient Maya writing system. No prior knowledge of the field is required, since some introductory lessons about the Maya and writing systems are included.


Remote learning

Short description:

One of the greatest achievements of the Maya civilization was the uniquely developed writing system, and scholars from around the world are still working on its decipherment. Thanks to their work, we are able to read thousands of preserved inscriptions that reveal to us various aspects of the life of the Ancient Maya. As part of the course, students have the opportunity to gradually master the theoretical knowledge of Maya writing and use it to read glyphic texts.

Full description:

The course consists of eighteen chapters. After a general introduction to the Maya civilization and writing systems, students are provided, step by step, with information on: media, techniques and tools used by the Maya to record texts; the history of the Maya writing and its decipherment; the Maya mathematics and calendar; types of signs and its graphic variations used in the Maya script; transliteration and transcription of glyph blocks; linguistics; methods of analyzing texts; content of preserved Maya inscriptions. Individual chapters contain detailed explanations and translations of glyphic records and are prepared in pdf format. Each chapter is accompanied by obligatory exercises that allow participants to check acquired skills. Students have also an opportunity to expand their knowledge through additional tasks and discussions forum. The goal of the course is theoretical and practical learning how to read and analyze the Ancient Maya inscriptions. The course was prepared by Sven Gronemeyer and Elisabeth Wagner under supervision of Nikolai Grube from University of Bonn. The course has been taught at University of Warsaw since 2003/2004. It is the only e-learning course of the Maya epigraphy in the world. The classes are carried out on the university's educational platform available at the address: (where one should register for the course after registering in USOS system). Inquiries regarding the registration can be sent to:

Please visit website for additional information on annual events related with the research on the Maya culture at University of Warsaw.


No prior knowledge of the literature is required. The bibliography for each chapter is included in the course (in PDF format).

Learning outcomes:

The goal of the course is to prepare participants for reading and understanding the Ancient Maya glyphic inscriptions.

Assessment methods and assessment criteria:

Each chapter of the course is accompanied by obligatory exercises. The course is approved both by regular participation and by final written exam.

This course is not currently offered.
Course descriptions are protected by copyright.
Copyright by University of Warsaw.
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